“Everything was ready. The moment God had been waiting for was here at last! God was coming to help his people, just as he promised in the beginning. But how would he come? What would he be like? What would he do? Mountains would have bowed down. Seas would have roared. Trees would have clapped their hands. But the earth held its breath. As silent as snow falling, he came in. And when no one was looking, in the darkness, he came. … Mary and Joseph names him Jesus, ‘Emmanuel’ – which means ‘God has come to live with us.’ Because, of course, he had.”
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
he came and set his people free.
He set the power of salvation in the center of our lives,
and in the very house of David his servant,
Just as he promised long ago
through the preaching of his holy prophets:
Deliverance from our enemies
and every hateful hand;
Mercy to our fathers,
as he remembers to do what he said he’d do,
What he swore to our father Abraham—
a clean rescue from the enemy camp,
So we can worship him without a care in the world,
made holy before him as long as we live.
And you, my child, “Prophet of the Highest,”
will go ahead of the Master to prepare his ways,
Present the offer of salvation to his people,
the forgiveness of their sins.
Through the heartfelt mercies of our God,
God’s Sunrise will break in upon us,
Shining on those in the darkness,
those sitting in the shadow of death,
Then showing us the way, one foot at a time,
down the path of peace.
But Jesus is constantly trying to make us understand that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s love is far less selective and far greater than ours. “Is thine eye evil because I am good?” God asks in Matthew’s Gospel after he has finished paying all the workers the same wage. When God blesses those we deem unworthy, does our jealousy make our eye become evil? Are we, like the elder brother, like Jonah, upset at God’s forgiveness? Daily I need a deep and penitent awareness of how much greater God’s love is than my own. – Madeleine L’Engle
“The people of Nineveh listened to Jonah, and they start loving God. They learned to do what God said and to stop running away from him – just like Jonah. Many years later, God was going to send another Messenger with the same wonderful message. Like Jonah, he would spend three days in utter darkness. But this Messenger would be God’s own Son. He would be called ‘The Word’ because he himself would be God’s Message. God’s Message translated into our own language. Everything God wanted to say to the whole world – in a Person.”
Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed:
“In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God.
He answered me.
From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’
You heard my cry.
You threw me into ocean’s depths,
into a watery grave,
With ocean waves, ocean breakers
crashing over me.
I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away,
thrown out, out of your sight.
I’ll never again lay eyes
on your Holy Temple.’
Ocean gripped me by the throat.
The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight.
My head was all tangled in seaweed
at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root.
I was as far down as a body can go,
and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever—
Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive,
O God, my God!
When my life was slipping away,
I remembered God,
And my prayer got through to you,
made it all the way to your Holy Temple.
Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds,
walk away from their only true love.
But I’m worshiping you, God,
calling out in thanksgiving!
And I’ll do what I promised I’d do!
Salvation belongs to God!”
Then God spoke to the fish, and it vomited up Jonah on the seashore.
Jonah 1-4, Hebrews 1:1-2